Urban Core Gun Violence: It’s Complicated

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Inner City Pressure (Photo credit: shannonpatrick17)

Hey, I’m all for sensible gun control measures, better gun education, better data collection, etc. But the methods that are currently (February 2013) being considered in Congress are not going to work in inner city situations. There are different cultural issues and economic issues going on in these areas.

First, there is a culture of toughness that is vitally important, and very difficult to break down, among those who are a part of it. ‘Backing down’ makes a person a ‘pussy’, calling the police makes you a ‘snitch’, and there is real truth in the belief that you have to take care of yourself because the law is not on your side. 

Second, many (most?) guns in the inner city have been ‘extra-legal’ for most of their lifetimes, bought and sold and passed around so many times that no one really knows who originally owned the gun – and that’s if the serial number hasn’t been filed off.

Third, there is a good amount of evidence that most inner city violence can be traced back to small groups of ‘super offenders’ who are extremely difficult to get to either through law enforcement or through advocacy groups.

Source of firearms possessed by Federal inmates, 1997 “Federal Firearm Offenders, 1992-98”. Bureau of Justice Statistics . . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Banning ‘assault rifles’ (the quotes indicate I know the term is debatable and don’t want to have that debate right now) isn’t going to change much in the inner city because 1) most of the guns are extra-legal, and 2) most of the guns are handguns.

Background checks aren’t going to change much in the inner city because 1) have I mentioned that most of the guns are extra-legal? And 2) most professional criminals can find and pay someone to buy a gun legally for them if they need them.

Mental health improvements may somewhat benefit people in the inner city but 1) there are significant cultural barriers to access, not least of which is that most mental health professionals look like me (white, middle class) and not like them (brown or black, working and poverty class) 2) there are significant barriers to benefits from mental health when they are not accompanied by reasonable measures to ensure paths out of generational poverty and despair that don’t involve extra-legal activities.

So, except for improving data collection about gun violence, which will benefit people in the inner city (more knowledge benefits everyone) we have pretty much bupkis that will help those who are among the most likely to be affected by gun violence.

A note here. I am not arguing that the proposed measures would not benefit the US as a whole. I completely support the proposals being made and can see how they would benefit most of us, even including many of the people in the urban cores – but they aren’t going to be enough.

So what can we do? Aw hell. If I had all the answers, I’d be talking to Congress instead of you all. Instead, I’m going to pose a few questions. Let me know what you think. (And keep it respectful and evidence based, or at least rational).

Questions to ask about Solving the Urban Core Gun Violence Issue:

How would ‘bullet control‘ work? Could we have an exception for bullets used at shooting ranges sold by and for the range and collected and measured for proof they’re not ‘escaping’?

What might an effective advocacy group for the urban core gun violence issue look like? Are there any out there that are doing a fabulous job and making a difference?

Is prison outreach any part of the solution? How could it be done?

Is there room in this discussion for a re-opening of the topic of entitlements, especially including education entitlements that give youth an alternative to violence as a way to make a living?

We’ve talked about mental health, but we haven’t talked about substance abuse in the gun violence debate, and there’s a much stronger link between active substance abuse and perpetration of gun violence than mental health and perpetration of gun violence. What’s the next step?

Who is with me on addressing the ‘Isms that are contributing to the issues – racism, sexism, classism – am I missing any? How should the be addressed? By whom?

Are there traditionally conservative ideas that could be used to address urban core gun violence? What are they? How could they benefit?

Some fascinating studies have shown that there is a huge correlation between reducing concentrations of lead in the environment and a reduction of all crimes in the US over the last twenty years. Are there pockets of our urban core where there are still homes with a lot of lead paint? What could be done?

How do we address the ‘secondary market‘ such as gun shows? How will it impact the urban core?

Is there any role for decriminalization of drugs in this equation? Where does that come in?

Do you have any more ideas that aren’t covered here? What are they? How could they help?

This isn’t a ‘today’s dance’, but the same rules apply. Be respectful, thoughtful, and contribute to the conversation. Share often and early to bring new points of view in through those handy buttons at the bottom of the post. If you just want to think about these things and ‘lurk’, you don’t have to say a word.

  • Gun Violence Is Urban, Inner-City Violence (teapartyeconomist.com)
  • If Obama cares about gun violence, why the hypocrisy with urban crime? (genomega1.wordpress.com)
  • Guest Commentary: How we can reduce gun violence and suicide (denverpost.com)


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